Agribusiness: Our Challenge and Opportunity
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
By Cecilia Harry
As part of the Greater Omaha region and the state of Nebraska, Greater Fremont and Dodge County have a rich history and active role in the agribusiness industry. From our farms to our food processors to all of the companies that support the entire chain of value-added agriculture, our community has much to add to the conversation about growing the agribusiness industry in the region and the state.
Led by Sean Johnson of the Gateway Development Corporation (Washington County, Nebraska), the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership (of which the Greater Fremont Development Council is a proud partner) has created a comprehensive agribusiness development strategy with the expertise of the existing agribusinesses in the region. This strategy provides a blueprint for the private sector, public entities, and economic development professionals to work together to strategically market the region, increase our global competitiveness, and educate our communities about this opportunity to truly transform our regional and local economies.
In summary, the agribusiness industry is a $5 trillion industry globally. It is projected that world population will increase by 2.5 billion people by 2050, and those people will need to eat. The region is already home to a critical mass of agriculture-based companies ranging from family farms to Fortune 500 companies. The environment and timing is right to aggressively position the Greater Omaha region to capture our share of the growing market that is demanding value-added agriculture products. The region’s agribusiness development strategy has an ambitious yet feasible vision: to become a top five global concentration of value-added agriculture companies, jobs, and investment.
Realizing this vision will take a lot of working parts of various systems, including addressing some existing obstacles that are not unique to the region. Issues like increasing regulation, consumer pressures for more information and safer products, and being mindful of environmental impact exist across markets. Our regional strategy guides us to get ahead of these issues. Instead of reacting to regulation, we will develop expertise to be the leader in regulatory processes. We will play an active role to work with farmers and firms to adopt new practices that satisfy consumer expectations and communicate the safety and quality of our products. We will help companies minimize environmental impact and communicate these best practices to the consumer.
Opportunities abound in various sub-sectors of the agribusiness industry, including food production and processing, water management, precision ag, food safety and security, and many more. This translates to plenty of job and investment growth opportunities for all of the communities in the region, as each community will have its own set of strengths and opportunities that will give them a competitive advantage in specific sub-sectors. Greater Fremont Development Council is producing a targeted industry analysis this year to help us determine how Greater Fremont and Dodge County best fit into the agribusiness industry and other industries where a competitive advantage exists.
Together, the region will work to market our assets to the world with branding and strategic exposure, support our existing industry with supply chain development, address the need for a growing talent pipeline, and nurture entrepreneurs in the value-added agriculture realm.
The full strategy can be found on the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership’s website, www.SelectGreaterOmaha.com or by following this link: http://bit.ly/1AhAnKB. Greater Fremont Development Council is on board with the regional strategy and looks forward to coordinating community efforts to help us maximize this opportunity to bring growth to our economic base.